Outdoor Heating Sytems: Stay Cozy All Year Round

Fire pit

Cold weather shouldn’t keep you from enjoying your patio, deck or outdoor space.


Because there are a range of outdoor heating systems that can keep you cozy all year round.

These range from inexpensive solutions such as a fire pit to enclosing your deck entirely and making a three-season room or a four-season sun room.

There are so many outdoor heating systems to choose from depending on your budget and goals.

There is no one-size-fits-all solution but you can plan for one-time events like a party or plan on enjoying your space through the whole winter.

So let’s check them out.

#1 Fire Pit

This is the simplest, most primal solution but will likely require calling your local fire department first to confirm that you are allowed to have open flames on your property!

You can build a fire pit on top of, or into, your deck with simple, durable (and obviously fireproof materials) like concrete bricks, bricks or metal.

The good news is:

There are many affordable, standalone fire pits available for purchase that can sit directly on top of your wood deck and provide that campfire feeling throughout the night.

Make sure you practice good fire safety skills and have a bucket of water on hand.

Let’s face it:

Nothing beats warming your hands up at a campfire with your back facing the cold winter air.

#2 Hot Tub

Man in hot tub

While hot tubs won’t heat up your outdoor space, I assure you that they’ll keep you warm and toasty while you’re outside! The point is for you to be warm, cozy and relaxed, right?


Recently, outdoor hot tubs have become much more affordable thanks to newer plastic models in lieu of the standard wood-and-fiberglass options.

With that said, you will likely be able to find a hot tub that fits any outdoor renovation budget.

The most elegant models are built directly into the deck so the surface of the water is level with the flooring of the deck, which is truly a seamless and immersive experience.

Actually I lied…

I know I just said nothing beats warming your hands up at a campfire, but sipping a glass on champagne in a hot tub while snow is gently falling on your head just might…

#3 Patio Heater

Usually we associate standing patio torches with restaurants, bars or ski lodges.

But guess what?

These are actually effective solutions for your home deck or patio as well.

Unlike ski lodges, you only need to heat up a relatively small space for your friends and family so you likely won’t need more than two heaters.

As you know, they get super warm and you don’t have to worry as much about controlling the heat source like you do with fire pits.

The best part is:

Patio heaters are slender and beautiful options that heat large areas without taking up a lot of space. There are electric, gas and propane models that come in various sizes to heat spaces large and small.

You basically just turn them on or off, so there is not the log-splitting or cleanup associated with open flames.

Bottom line is:

Of all the outdoor heating systems listed here, patio heaters might be the most efficient. They are easy to maintain, refill and operate and they throw serious heat without taking up a lot of room.

You can check out my round up of the best electric patio heaters for more options.

Patio heater

#4 Three-Season Sun Room

A sun room is an enclosed space that contains many windows to let, well, sunlight in.

Because there is so much glass, they are typically much colder than the rest of your house and are only warm enough to use comfortably for three-quarters of the year.

Here’s the point:

Sun rooms can be built as additions onto existing decks. They are a great renovation project and will add square footage to your home without you needing to embark on a full-on home addition.

Sun rooms are unique spaces because the amount of light they allow in is typically much greater than in the rest of your home. They are great for curling up with a cup of hot chocolate and a good book.

And even better:

A well-positioned, well-lit sun room can feel like the closest thing to being outside without actually being outside.

In a three-season sun room, you will likely just need a blanket to stay warm.

You could also incorporate a hot tub in your sun room (see point 2) to truly make it the best place to be in your home.

#5 Four-Season Sun Room

The difference between a three-season and four-season sun room is that a four-season sun room can be used year-round.

Window technology has come a long way, and if you can insulate your deck and afford contemporary, well-insulated windows, your patio space can be enjoyed 12 months of the year without sacrificing any of the natural light that makes sun rooms special.

Pretty amazing right?

Considering double or triple glazed window assemblies to create a warm, cozy four-season room. Triple glazed insulation means that three layers of glass sandwich two layers of insulating gases to allow light and heat in without letting it out.

With today’s technology, these windows can perform almost as well as traditional, opaque insulated walls.

Sun room

So what does this all mean?

In the summer, super-insulated glazing paired with window shades will keep heat and glare out and make the space comfortable without relying on a ton of air conditioning.

A well-insulated sun room also allows you to grow plants throughout the year and create a verdant indoor garden. Sun rooms are basically greenhouses for people; they allow light in and block cold winter drafts.

No matter your budget, there are many outdoor heating systems that you can choose from to make your entire home, inside and out, useful throughout the year.

Fire pits, hot tubs, patio heaters and sun rooms allow you to enjoy the outdoors even when the weather is doing everything in its power to thwart you!

In short:

There is no reason why you shouldn’t be able to enjoy some of the most fun parts of your property just because it’s chilly or snowing outside.

Many of these solutions are affordable, nimble and removable, so they won’t break the bank or take up a ton of space.

Hot tubs and sun rooms can be used throughout the year and patio heaters can be brought out of the shed at a moment’s notice, just in case you planned an outdoor dinner party on the one freakishly cold night in May!

I think you get the idea.


Want to learn more about outdoor heating systems? You can find further details here:

  • How to Keep Warm Outside: 5 Science Based Tips – The Week
  • How to Stay Warm in Cold Weather – wikiHow
  • Winter Guide to Outdoor Patio Heating – Sylvane
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